In the first step toward the possible removal of any city-owned Confederate monuments, the Austin City Council passed a resolution Thursday condemning the display of monuments and memorials to the Confederacy.
The resolution, sponsored by council member Sabino Renteria, District 3, passed with only one no-vote from council member Ellen Troxclair, District 8. Along with its condemnation, the resolution tasks the City Manager with collecting information about all city-owned Confederate monuments and memorials on city property, including street names and buildings.
“When you have (Confederate monuments) on public property where people of African descent are paying taxes to upkeep it, then I have to think about it differently,” said Ora Houston, council member for District 1 and co-sponsor of the resolution. “As an American of African descent, my taxes have gone to pay for upkeep of symbolism of a war that was started because of the people who were brought here from Africa, and the war was lost yet we still honor those people.”
The report will also include an estimation of the cost required to remove or rename these monuments, streets or buildings.
Student body vice president Micky Wolf attended Thursday’s Council meeting to speak on another issue but said he supported the resolution. Wolf also successfully advocated for the removal of Confederate statues from the South Mall in August.
“I didn’t think they should be on our University’s campus, and I don’t think they should be in the city of Austin,” Wolf said. “I’m happy to see the (Council) take that step forward.”
With the wave of Confederate monument removals across the country, Houston said it was an apt time to address and relocate these memorials to places where they can be properly analyzed within the context of history, such as museums.
“We’ve never had (this) conversation,” Houston said. “This is an opportunity to gather more data and then give people an opportunity to have a conversation.”
Dissenting, Troxclair said in a Facebook post that the resolution will have no tangible impact and only serves as a distraction from more pressing issues such as high property taxes and traffic congestion.
“To my knowledge we have no Confederate memorials on city property, and the city has no say in federal immigration policy,” Troxclair said. “Additionally, all three items included historically inaccurate and extremely inflammatory language that only serves to further divide the community, rather than bring us together.”